Entering the lion’s den (my conversation on YouTube)

For those of you who are unaware I joined a Google Hangout on YouTube last night which if you’re interested can be accessed here .

Within this post I want to basically elaborate on my impressions and how it was like to join in on the conversation.

Right of the bat I must say I was a little uneasy going into the conversation, because it was clear that my side of the topic of God’s existence (the Atheists) would be outnumbered. I also knew, having had contact with 2 of the participants and knowing myself pretty well, that there was potential for a shouting match and the friendly conversation could’ve easily turned into a debate, where I had to be at my best with my counter-apologetics.

I am glad to say that this was not the case. While I still held to a minority view within the hangout, it was a really civil calm and respectful discourse.

I think it was a good idea to start with some brief introductions, since I didn’t actually know where everyone was coming from beforehand, concerning their theological position but also concerning other relevant positions like the age of the Earth and the Universe and whether or not evolution is true or not.

After that we talked about some of the Bible characters (and historical figures within the Bible). I actually enjoyed the question, because I was familiar with it and my answer was of course the character of Adam since he’d pretty much be the only person in history who ever had real personal contact with God (or at the very least is among the few who did). The other responses were interesting as well, seeing that some Christians see themselves in the historical figures and have made them their heroes and heroines.

While it wasn’t a debate in any sense of the word there were some heated moments which I want to address.

It felt like you could cut the tension with a knife when Peter my partner in crime so to speak brought out some verses, that concern slavery and human rights in general. While I do hold to the view that the Bible does promote slavery (even IF all the verses under dispute could be explained away by the way) but it never escalated in any way.

The other moment was basically when Peter addressed the Young Earther Jason within the Hang-out and challenged him on checking the sources that Answers in Genesis uses for their articles. At that point I jumped in as well and explained why I don’t AiG at all and why I find them dishonest, namely because they lie for Jesus and I used their tendency to quote mine authorities as an example.

After that then I challenged Sy on “the evolutionary problem of evil” which means that God if he was good would’ve used five major extinction events to achieve his Creation. I find that incompatible with a good God but I do applause his general attempt to reconcile the known science with the scriptures, however a futile attempt I think it to be, at least it has the potential to bring about a situation in which more Christians will accept the theory of evolution which is in my view evidently and obviously true.

Those were some of my general impressions that I took away. Stephanie, if you’re reading this, as I think you will do some day, I would once again like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in yesterday’s coffee talk.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Everything is permitted (?)

I’m sure all of you aware of the recent Texas church masacre. I initially didn’t want to write anything about it as it connects Atheism or Theism because quite frankly I think his Atheism or his Theism aren’t relevant at all. Quite frankly we do not know whether he would or not have done what he did had he held a different position on the existence of God. As it seems however some Christians *cough The Activist Mommy *cough seem to disagree.

I have written quite a bit about morality on my blog but I think despite it’s repetetiveness and despite the fact that I’ll have to raise some of the points of the past, I’ll either write this today or not at all. So today it is.

It seems like one of the fundamental misunderstanding that some Christians have (not all but some) is that if God doesn’t exist, then there’s gonna be hell to pay. Society will break out in chaos because if God doesn’t exist then we have no basis for right and wrong.

I am sorry but that view is blatantly absurd. If we get away for a moment from the words “right” and “wrong” (since not everyone shares the same definition) then there are most definitely reasons why we ought to be in favor of a society where these things don’t happen.

The reason for that is because life and especially human life is valuable. Now I know some Theists often then ask “How can there be value to life, if we’re just evolved chemical reactions?”

The thing is value is not intrinsic. If I didn’t like eating bananas then bananas would have little value to me. I don’t like eating peas, so they do have little value to me. For something to have value it needs a valuer or valuers and these valuers are us humans. Life or the “evolved chemical reactions” as some like to degrade it is valuable because we value it.

Now there are some people who don’t value (human) life. But I think it’s Universal for people that they at least value their life and their well being. If they at least fulfill that requirement then it follows that they should behave in a way that is condusive for society because in the long run if society flourishes you’ll benefit. Furthermore if you commit crimes against us, we will stop you and throw you into prison where your well being is guaranteed to decrease.

Even if you don’t have empathy, even if you don’t value the well being of other sentient beings as long as you value yourself and your well being, you ought to behave in a way as if you did value life and well being of others.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint alone it necessarily follows, that we in fact DO have a basis for abstaining from commiting the acts that the shooter did commit.

There are many more reasons of course but in the interest of keeping it short let’s leave it there.

Another aspect which this attitude of the Theists suggests is that if God exists then somehow magically the problem is solved.

Theists in general believe in God based morality and in objective absolute moral values and duties.

I don’t believe this is the case but let’s grant for a moment that it is.

This automatically begs a few question: What are they?

There are Theists who believe that God commands them to kill others. There are Theists who believe it’s moral to kill a specific group of people be it based on ethnicity sexuality etc. . There are Theists who think it’s moral to let your children die or even kill them.

How do we detect them and how come they differ so greatly?

If we have no objective way to measure them, then they might as well not exist. If we detect them subjectively by what feels to be right, then despite some general overlap, which I explained earlier,  we can’t get on the same page. Not even close. There are Kantians, Utilitarians and Divine Command Theorists etc. who largely disagree among themselves. Divine Command Theorists themselves aren’t on the same page either. Christians also disagree at various points despite having the same God.

So if we can’t detect them within us since we don’t agree, how can we at all? If we can’t at all, then what action can’t be justified by invoking God and on what arguments can a Divine Command Theorist make despite “My God says this is objectively wrong” . Well okay but not everyone believes in your God and not everyone buys your interpretation of him.

The Divine Command Theorist clearly can’t appeal to human well being, at least not without borrowing from my morality.

In summary I do not claim that Atheists are incapable of commiting atrocities. They clearly aren’t. What I claim is that Atheists can have sound and well functioning ethic views and while Theists are as I contest wrong they are in general well functioning members of society as well.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Challenging “Creation Science” : The fundamental issue.

In this article in my series where I call out “Creation Science” as the joke that it is, we’re finally going to address the real problem that plagues this futile and frustrating endeavor. The real problem can pretty much summarized in this very telling proclamation of Answers in Genesis on their website:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

I’m confident many of you will be familiar with the statement but I don’t think all people and especially not Creationists are aware what it implies.

It’s a direct admission, that the people working at this  Pseudo-scientific institution have in advance already rejected any and all evidence that could ever be presented to them, which could conflict with their beliefs. Even if we find the most conclusive and obvious and ridiculously well preserved transitional fossil we could imagine (and it is my view that we already found more than enough to vindicate evolution) it doesn’t matter to them. If we were to have a time machine, with which we could travel into the past and witness evolution for ourselves then chances are, they’ll just believe it was an illusion.

This approach to evidence and data is dishonest. They already have their conclusion and all they have to do is find a way to make the evidence support it or at least not refute it. With that they’re forced to employ dishonest tactics such as quote mining authorities, such as misrepresenting findings of other scientists and they have no problem whatsoever to make stuff up as they go along.

Creationism by any reasonable standard isn’t science it’s Pseudo-Science. The scientific method consists of making observations and doing experiments then you develop a Hypothesis and you try to disprove the Hypothesis with more experiments and you make risky predictions whose failure to be met, would lead you to either revise your Hypothesis or discard it altogether. A failure to disprove your Hypothesis with either experiments or unsuccesful predictions by yourself and your peers will eventually result in your Hypothesis becoming a theory and it will be included in the textbooks.

Both evolution as well as the Big Bang underwent that process. What’s the process within “Creation Science” ? Read your Bible and then see what your Hypothesis is: Be it that God created kinds of animals 6000 years ago or that there was a Global Flood about 4400 years ago. It is within these boundaries that your evidence must fall under. The evidence mustn’t contradict your Hypothesis. Try to find evidence that seems to support your Hypothesis and try to make other evidence compatible with it.

If your Hypothesis seems to fail at some point then you’re not above making shit up . No matter what implications your Hypothesis has for instance that you need to rely on 200-300 species being produced by 2 original animals in 4400 years albeit with no beneficial mutations whatsoever or sea creatures surviving during a Flood in which all the geological features we see today origniated. This would not only include the Grand Canyon but also Volcanoes. One can only imagine what life must’ve been like for these poor fish. Furthermore there would be a severe problem for the fresh/saltwater fish since they’d have trouble surviving. But I digress.

Here’s the bottom line: Creationism isn’t science because it works from the conclusion backwards. It is not afraid to twist data and use every excuse imaginable to somehow prevent the model from being falsified. It’s a total and utter reliance on the Bible (or other holy books) and the belief in it or practice of it, has nothing to do with the evidence. It’s all about accepting “God’s word” no matter what and they openly admit it.


That is in essence why I am against Creationism. It isn’t scientific and even if it somehow is true and the devil just buried all the fossils and faked the evidence, this mindset is a disgrace to our species!

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

Why use deistic apologetics?

It’s been about one and a half year since I switched from my formerly passive deism to my current Atheism about which I am vocal on the internet. Especially in the beginning of my atheistic days I watched a few debates and while I still do that today, if time allows it, one observation among the professional Apologists consistently stood out:

They never argue for the Christian God. Ever.

The arguments you’ll often hear are the Kalam Cosmological argument or the fine tuning argument the moral argument or on rare occasions Paley’s original watchmaker argument has its prominent proponents as well.

I don’t accept these arguments for various reasons, which I stated both in my blog as well as in Twitter discussions but even if I did get persuaded by them, I’d at best return back to deism or some kind of Supernatural entity, because that’s exactly where these arguments lead me.

These arguments are not arguments for the Christian God or the Muslim God they are arguments for a god, which may or may not be the Christian or Muslim God. I’d even go so far and take it one step further and say, that these arguments serve the deistic case far better than the God who proponents of the Abrahamic religions are arguing for.

When you think about the Kalam argument (without going into other flaws) it’s mighty curious that the Abrahamic God would cause the Universe to exist 13.8 billion years ago and then wait around billions of years before we finally appear 200.000 years ago.

What would be the purpose of waiting so long. The same is true for fine tuning:

Why would an omnipotent God have to fine tune the Universe. God isn’t limited by parameters.

He could’ve created the Universe with any conditions of his choosing and still made us exist. Yet the fine tuning argument explicitly assumes, that the Universe had to be the exact way it is for us to exist.

These are polar opposites.

In other words: Not only is it the case, that Apologists use arguments, which can’t support the Christian God over the Muslim one or another deity who is unknown to man, it may also be the case, that Apologists are arguing against themselves by making a case for a deity whose case they don’t want to make.

I also don’t accept deism at the moment but I still wonder why Apologists rarely if ever make arguments for the God they believe in.

They do on occasions of course, or rather they do think they’re arguing for the Christian God, when they use Presuppositional Apologetics or make a case for the resurrection.

Both of these suffer from the same problem:

Presuppositional Apologetics, however biblical it may be, can be used by any other Theist to argue for a different deity.

Jesus resurrection while proclaimed in the Bible, doesn’t make the case for the Christian God neither, because the following argument is simply a non-sequitur:

P1:Jesus resurrected

C: He was God and/or the son of God

One may only wonder why they use the arguments they use and why they argue for deism and not their specific brand of theism.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation

On popularity: a brief follow-up

When I wrote my last article God’s popularity it seems like a Christian who many of my readers will be familiar with took notice. If you haven’t read my previous blog please do so, to get the full context. The following is the dialogue we had in the comment section. I just thought it might be interesting for you, since a few more points were brought up.

Christian Apologist:

1. Hindus believe their supreme being is a passive part of nature.
2. You have no proof indicating people eons ago did not worship a Supreme Being. Cave art indicates otherwise.
3. We are hard wired to believe in God. Why would that be if God didn’t wire us?

My response:

Evolution would explain the hard wiring and the question “Why would that be if God didn’t wire us?” is an argument from ignorance. Cave art from what years exactly? To my knowledge the oldest ones are about 35.000 years old which fits in the upper time frame (50.000 years) which I provided. In my numbers I actually counted Hindus to your side of the argument, which I think was charitable.

Christian Apologist:

How does evolution explain hard wiring? Are you suggesting humans at one point did not believe in God without any evidence to support your assertion? is this an argument from ignorance from you Rene? in other words, you’re saying that because we have no cave art that is as old as the earliest humans, the answer is that they must not have believed in God.

Does that make sense?

My response:

What I am saying is that the oldest evidence we have found of deity worship up until now dates back to roughly the number I mentioned. This doesn’t mean that the earlier people didn’t have deities. It’s not just about cave arts it’s about a lack of evidence before 50.000 years ago. It may be the case that the earlier humans did believe in God but we simply have no artifacts to show for it. Currently the earliest evidence we have is from said time period but it can always be pushed back further. It is for instance also the estimate that the earliest humans existed 195.000 years ago. Future evidence may push this number further back. Likewise future evidence may push the number for religious belief further back. I accept this number only tenatively and I’m willing to revise my beliefs with future evidence.

Likewise you’ll notice that in the continuation of my case I dismissed all that completely, because ultimately this little prequel to the actual “meat” was just having a little fun on my part, providing some interesting stuff, that others may not be familiar with.

As far as hard wiring is concerned let me revisit Schermer: As he said, Australopithecus aforensis (Lucy) and as I think our ancestors in general have this tendency of attributing agency to observances in nature. I think this by far predates our Primate ancestors, since we can observe it within hunties deers or bunnies (I don’t do it personally) that they run when hearing a sound because it might be a predator. Lucy had the same ability to see agency in nature and so we do the same thing.

Now imagine yourself about 100.000 years ago, you’re living in a world and you can’t explain it. But you have this ability to see agency in nature and lacking further knowledge about evolution and all the sciences we know today, I’d think you’d have a tendency to fall for Paley’s argument, namely I do see these pattern and I do agency behind it, maybe there was an agent or agents behind it.

Likewise this would become a tradition within your tribe you would carry it on to your children and so on and so forth. Over time as the tribe divides into more tribes, the story gets changed and modified and we have numerous different deities. Likewise in the future seperated tribes may come together and they introduce the others to their deities, which get adopted and maybe modified etc. . I think you get the idea.

That is one way I think it could’ve started. Do I know this to be the case? No, it’s a scenario, that seems plausible to me.

Likewise it is the case that different people groups do introduce others to their religion, which then gets adopted. That’s what happened with Christianity, whether it is true or not.

To summarize: We as well as other animals do have a tendency to see agency in nature. With our brain capacity, it is not implausible that we saw agency in natural phenonema, such as “Creation” itself and attributed it to deities.

Last but not least, if this explanation doesn’t make sense to you or isn’t satisfactory (and I have a good feeling it won’t be : ) ), then the hard wiring is unexplained and while you believe it comes from God itself, I see no reason to accept that conclusion.

That’s it for today.

Goodbye from yours truly,

Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation